First Principles Thinking

Skills Cafe

About This Course

First Principles Thinking is a method of problem-solving in which a problem is broken down into a set of ab-initio (fundamental) truths and assumptions, then working up from there. This process can lead to new approaches, ideas, and ways of solving tough problems. This is high energy and action-oriented micro-workshop which helps participants explore the approach of First Principles Thinking and apply it at work.


Curated videos and reading material

Skill Drill 1: Understanding the First Principles Thinking Process

In this skill drill, the participants will understand the First Principles Thinking approach through examples. The participants will then be split into groups and work on a set of challenges. These challenges will be fun problem statements. We will observe the participant’s default cognitive processes of thinking and problem solving and identify the drawbacks of these methods.

Skill Drill 2: Barriers to First Principles Thinking

The human mind has evolved survival strategies like shortcuts and heuristics to solve problems more efficiently. However, the same strategies that help us survive also lead to becoming poor at solving new sets of problems. In this skill drill, we will explore the mental processes that impede problem-solving. These include:

  • Einstellung Effect
  • Functional Fixedness
  • Status Quo Bias

Skill Drill 3: First Principles Thinking and Innovation

In this skill drill, we will look at various examples of how people have used First Principles Thinking to create innovative products and breakthrough solutions. Using these examples, we will explore how first principle thinking can be used to dramatically improve products, designs, and solve problems better. In this skill drill, we will also evolve a process for making use of the First Principles Thinking approach.

Skill Drill 4: Using the First Principles Thinking Approach

In this skill drill, we will explore everyday work-related issues and problems that participants face and apply the first principle thinking the approach to them.

Note: This is session may require pre-planning and identification of the most pertinent problems. At the end of this session, participants would have re-framed and got better insights into the problem (if not full solutions).


Learners select a problem at work on which they can apply First Principles Thinking. Learners report their experiences after 2 weeks through an online survey.


Learning Objectives

Learn and apply the First Principles Thinking Approach
Apply First Principles Thinking to innovate and create new ideas
Enhance problem solving and critical thinking thinking skills
Identify the barriers to the First Principles Thinking approach

Target Audience

  • Individual Contributors
First Principles Thinking
Duration 4.5 hours

Material Includes

  • Workbook
  • Handouts
  • Nudge cards

Setup a Free Demo